I read my class a book today about a small girl who is told that due to her size she’s incapable of doing anything that the bigger people can do. For an ELL class, it was a fine opportunity to discuss the terms “big,” “bigger,” and “biggest.” We did so before reading the story.
When we finished, we talked about some other words that can be used the same way: small, tall, happy. And then I told them it might be a nice thing to tell one of their favorite colleagues of mine, the next time she came in, that she’s not pretty, nor prettier, but the prettiest.
She came in shortly after we finished reading the book, and I nudged the class in the direction of paying her the compliment.
Right on cue, Alvin turned to her and said, “You’re not beautiful, you’re the beautiful!”
We all had a good laugh over that and no feelings were hurt when I explained the motive behind the unintentionally backhanded compliment.